I am almost at peace with the phrase, “It is what it is.” Or, to be completely accurate about it, I’ve grown numb to it. You can say it all you want, it’s just static in my ears at this point. It used to be like an ice pick going in one ear and coming out the other. If you ever said it while I was around and you happened to be looking my way, that’s why I made the face you saw. Like you were physically hurting me. Because you were.
Every year or two, a phrase comes out of the mouths of seemingly everybody on earth at the same time that makes me grimace in pain. Before this, it was: “Nothing is impossible.” Wow. Nothing? So now, everything is possible? Like, I could turn a roll of toilet paper into a million dollars by saying “Abracadabra?” Or is that not what you meant? Because that’s what you said. You said I could do that. But not being able to do that is what “impossible” means. We could come up with another word for things like that, but it seems kind of redundant, because we already have a word. Or had, now that you’ve changed the meaning of “impossible.”
I kind of have feelings about this. Can you tell?
The first time I heard “It is what it is,” I was just puzzled, and I made a face to go along with it: specifically, that head tilt that dogs make when you ask them to do something and they look at you like, “Why do you think I can understand English, huh?” For five, maybe ten minutes my brain could not think of anything else. “Wait, what is it? It couldn’t be anything else but what it is. What else could it be? How are you even saying that?” The next forty-two thousand times I heard it that day, I went from puzzled to annoyed, and then to icepick. Annoyed, because all at once everybody around me was saying it at the end of every sentence. “The candy bar I wanted got stuck in the machine. *sigh* It is what it is.” “My weekend was pretty bad. Oh well; it is what it is.” “My boss is such an asshole. But it is what it is.” I gave it the featherweight impact of “I know what I know” and “I am what I am” because, to be completely frank, that’s what everybody else gave it when they tacked it to the end of phrases as different as “my dog ate my homework” and “my dog got run over by a truck.” It’s impossible for those two statements to have the same philosophical weight. Oh, sorry. Nothing is impossible. My bad. *icepick face*
One of our local grocery store chains flipped this kind of phrase on it’s head when a radio advertisements I heard today promoting their stores proudly proclaimed, “Good enough is not good enough.” *puzzled dog* Wait, what? No. Don’t say that. You can’t say that. That doesn’t make sense. At all. Not in any way, shape, or form. You can say “it is what it is” and make some kind of sense. It’s pointless and shallow, but it makes sense. “White is white” is a redundant, uninteresting thing to say, and it’s essentially meaningless because it’s pointless, but at least it’s a true statement. But it’s grammatical suicide to make statements like “yes is not yes” or “blue is not blue” or “good enough is not good enough” because, in point of fact, “good enough” IS LITERALLY “good enough.” What are you trying to say? “There is a thing I’m going to call BLAH that is not a thing called BLAH.” Where’d you get that? Did your parents torture you as a kid by talking wrong in front of you?
“Daddy, why is the sky blue?”
“The sky is not blue, sweetheart.”
“What color is it, then?”
“It’s blue, honey.”
“But you said it wasn’t blue.”
“I did, yes.”
“Why did you say that if it’s not blue?”
“I didn’t say it’s blue, honey. I said it’s blue.”
Is that what you grew up with? Because if you did, I feel sorry for you, but don’t inflict that on me. Save that shit for your analyst.